Confirming recent rumors that were revealed late last week, Volkswagen has officially appointed Matthias Mueller as the new CEO of the Volkswagen Group amid the fallout from the company’s worsening diesel emissions scandal.
Mueller takes the place of the recently resigned former CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn who stepped down as the scandal was just beginning to receive national attention. Mueller will still remain in his role as the chairman of Porsche until a suitable successor can be found. Mueller will have his work cut out for him as he tries to navigate the Wolfsburg based firm through the stormy waters created by the scandal, but did release a statement vowing to ensure maximum transparency and accountability.
“My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group- by leaving no unturned and with maximum transparency as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation.” “Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry.”
Curiously, the official statement released by VW’s supervisory board did not elaborate on the respective fates of the company’s three R&D bosses Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Ulrich Hackenberg, and Wolfgang Hatz who ran VW, Audi, and Porsches R&D departments respectively. All three were allegedly sacked by the board after the scandal first broke, and would’ve been key figures in the part of the company where the “defeat devices” were allegedly created. The statement however did reveal that Volkswagen Group of America president and CEO Michael Horn would keep his post, but amid a reorganization that will formally merge the company’s U.S. Mexico, and Canada operations with former Skoda chairman Winfred Vahland serving as leader of the new entity.
The company’s marketing and sales chief Christian Klinger will also be leaving the company, but unlike the scandal related purges. Klinger’s departure does not appear to be related to the scandal at all and is instead due to “differences with regard to business strategy.”
In addition to the management shakeup and the planned corporate restructuring, VW Passenger Cars chief Herbert Diess revealed that the company is “working at full speed” on a technical solution to its non-compliance with emissions standards. Recent rumors suggest that the company could soon order a recall of the affected models, and while it is unknown how the problem will exactly be fixed. It is believed that it will most likely involve a software fix to either reduce engine performance, or fuel efficiency for diesel vehicles that are currently on the road. It will depend however if TDI models in other world markets are found to be outfitted with defeat devices which could cause the cost of such a campaign to substantially rise. Another proposed solution is the retrofit of an all new urea-injection system to the affected vehicles, but it is also costly, and would require customers to add a long term expense to their budgets due to periodic refills of the urea fluid. For its part, Volkswagen has not officially confirmed any formal details of a potential fix but expect that to be unveiled in the near future.
“Our aim is to inform our customers as quickly as possible, so that their vehicles comply fully with regulations” stated Diess. “I assure you that Volkswagen will do everything humanly possible to win back the trust of our customers, the dealerships, and the public.”